McGrady Scores 35 to Down Celtics
Houston 91, Boston 73
HOUSTON, Dec. 6 (Ticker) -- Tracy McGrady denied the Boston Celtics their first winning streak of the season and positioned the Houston Rockets for theirs.
McGrady scored 35 points and the Rockets had their best defensive effort of the season in a 91-73 victory over the Celtics.
In a matchup of the NBA's only teams yet to win two in a row, the Rockets (5-12) got the better of the Celtics (7-10), who shot 34 percent (23-of-67) from the field and were held to a season low in points.
Houston avenged a 102-82 loss in Boston on November 13 in which McGrady was slowed by a back strain. There was nothing slowing him down Tuesday, when his health allowed him to use all of his physcial abilities.
"Unlike last time, I got in a great rhythm tonight and everything felt good," McGrady said. "The legs felt good, the back was fine, physically, mentally, it was all great out there.
"My shot felt fine. I was in a great rhythm and I just felt like I was taking great shots. I wasn't forcing anything and I just felt like my old self."
The All-Star swingman made 14-of-20 shots, adding seven rebounds and five assists. He scored 11 points in the second period, when the Rockets took the lead for good, and 14 in the final quarter, when Houston pulled away.
Ryan Bowen, who was announced as a late starter in place of rookie Luther Head, played outstanding defense while guarding Ricky Davis, holding him to just 10 points.
"Ricky Davis has been playing like an All-Star all year and Ryan did as good of a job guarding him as you can," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "You would have to be comatose to be on his team and not be inspired."
Bowen finished with just two points and eight rebounds but covered Davis and held him to just 5-for-12 shooting.
McGrady's big second quarter gave the Rockets a 48-38 halftime lead. His free throw extended the advantage to 59-42 midway through the third quarter.
"Right now I am just trying to push this team and get wins," McGrady said. "I don't care about the individual stuff and just going at the other teams. I don't care about that. I just want to make these guys better and do what I can to get wins."
The Celtics cut the deficit to seven points before entering the final period trailing, 65-54. McGrady opened the quarter with a pair of hoops, then answered a 5-0 spurt by Boston with a 3-pointer for a 72-59 advantage with 7:27 left.
Yao Ming scored 12 points and reserves Head and Stromile Swift added 11 each for the Rockets, who can notch their first winning streak of the season with a victory at Sacramento on Thursday.
Yao left the game in the fourth quarter after taking an elbow to the head from Brian Scalabrine. After taking eight stitches above his right eye, he returned and played the final 5 1/2 minutes.
Paul Pierce scored 20 points and Delonte West and reserve Al Jeffersonadded 12 apiece for the Celtics, who were coming off Sunday's win at New York in the opener of a five-game road trip that includes stops in San Antonio and Dallas.
"It was just one of those nights," Pierce said. "We shot the ball poorly and McGrady is a great player. But that is what the NBA is all about. I have to defend great players like that night in and night out."
Boston has followed four of its wins with home losses.